Reservations about new scheme for SSC exam 2012-14

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THE new scheme of studies for the Secondary School Certificate (matriculation) examination under part system for academic session 2012-14 and onward is bound to create confusion among students as well as teachers who have yet to understand and absorb it.

The new scheme has not only enhanced total marks from 1,050 to 1,100 but also merged practical examinations in theory papers. The candidates, who will appear for their Class-IX examination early next year, are so far unaware of the development that was notified late last month. Even most teachers are not aware of the changes to the scheme.

According to the new scheme of studies, each science subject will be of 150 marks – 75 marks each in Class-IX and -X examinations. The break-up of 75 marks, which is not clearly mentioned in the notification, shows that there will be 62 marks for theory questions (which include 10 marks for practical questions) and 13 marks for multiple choice questions (MCQs).

It is learnt that the BISE, Sargodha has developed science subjects’ model papers while the Lahore board developed humanities model papers. Officials concerned claim that the 10-mark practical portion in theory paper will have three questions — each having two parts of three and two marks. The students will be required to attempt two questions.

When asked, many science teachers rejected the new scheme especially merging the practical examination in theory paper. Former Lahore board chairman Prof Dr Zikariya Butt, who is a physicist and currently serving as director of research at the Government College University, Lahore, says “science without practicals is like Islam without Namaz.”

Another science teacher said the laboratories were being upgraded and promoted the world over but here such new schemes would ruin the school libraries that were already in a shambles.

The new scheme circulated by the Lahore board reports under the head “Evaluation of Practical” that there will be one question of practical (10 marks each) in the theory paper of matriculation Part-I and -II. In the same breath, the board says practical is a key factor in engaging, enthusing and inspiring students and therefore high quality, appropriate practicals are central to effective learning in science, technical and applied subject(s).

Therefore, the board says, separate paper of practical will also be conducted and grades will be awarded on the basis of performance of the candidates. The grades (A+, A, B, C, D, E, and F) will be mentioned on certificates issued by the board. “It is the responsibility of the institution to ensure the completion of chapter-wise practical as per curricula and syllabi during the teaching and learning process,” the board stressed.

It is interesting to mention that the board’s notification in its second paragraph says, “Mode of conduct of practical is subject to approval by the government.”When discussed with teachers, they were unanimous in saying that the new scheme of studies could not be implemented abruptly. They said even the BISEs Act did not allow implementation of any new policy within two years of the notification. “In the present case, half of the session of Class-IX is over and students will be getting free from schools after December to prepare for their annual examination,” they observed.

The science subjects’ paper-setters also voiced their concern that they were not yet trained to develop theory question-papers that would also include practical examination portion. “We are confused,” they said.

Some teachers said when they themselves did not know about the content and spirit of the new scheme of studies, how they could teach their students accordingly. They stressed that the new plan should first be disseminated to all teachers concerned and discussed at length before implementation.

Responding to a question that the new scheme has been notified for the session 2012-14 and onwards, the teachers wonder, “Will better sense prevail in boards after boycotts and protest demonstrations by students and teachers alike.”

A board official, requesting anonymity, admitted that the new scheme would create confusion and must be deferred for at least one year to ensure proper dissemination, awareness and acceptability among the teachers and the taught. He suggested that the boards should hold dialogues among science teachers and paper-setters.

As for increase in total marks, the official said Islamiyat and Pakistan Studies papers were of 75 marks each and taken in Class-IX and X, respectively. However, in the new scheme of studies, each paper would be of 100 marks and candidates would be required to appear for both papers in both classes. Each paper will carry 50 marks’ weightage.

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THE Ilm Ideas launched its Second Request for Applications to grant awards nationwide for increasing access to quality education for the children aged 5-16 years at an “Innovation in Education Expo” at a local hotel this past week. The Expo showcased ideas such as radio learning, satellite enabled mobile vans, and digital whiteboards.

Ilm Ideas programme’s acting team leader Zehra Zaidi said it was a three-year programme funded by UKaid, from the British people, aimed at increasing access to quality education, increased enrolment rates of children in primary and secondary schools, improved learning achievements and effective governance in the education sector.

She said the Ilm Ideas would eagerly wait for applications offering novel and creative solutions that could be scaled up and change the future for Pakistani children.

The Society for Advancement of Education, which is a grantee of the Ilm Ideas Education Innovation Fund, has undertaken to translate and adapt short videos related to specific topics in mathematics produced by the well-known Khan Academy and supported by the Gates Foundation for use in classrooms as well as for teacher training.

SAHE Executive Director Abbas Rashid says the videos will be embedded within a given lesson to facilitate the work of a teacher and improve learning outcomes. He says the exercise will also seek to align the Khan Academy videos with primary-level student learning outcomes identified in the national curriculum, provincial assessment systems and the newly-introduced teacher guides developed by the Directorate of Staff Development.

Dawn

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